STATES CHRONICLE – Dinosaurs are one of those obsessions no little boy ever grows out of. They were rulers of the world hundreds of millions of years ago, and why shouldn’t they? They were awesome. If you watched Jurassic Park (and you probably did), your favorite dinosaur is probably either the T-Rex or the Triceratops. Here is what you didn’t know about Hualianceratops, Triceratops’ cousin.
Scientists recently discovered the fossils of Hualianceratops wucaiwanensis, a small, plant eating dinosaur that was related to the Triceratops. The trike’s smaller cousin had a unique ornamental structure on its skull, and although it lacked its cousin’s horns, it is still considered a horned dinosaur.
The creature is not the first known member of its family to lack their traditional horn, although it is one of the oldest. Another individual lacking the horn but still included in the horned dinosaur family is another cousin of the Hualianceratops, the Yinlong downsi.
Both animals were discovered in the same region in China’s Xinjiang Province. The Hualianceratops was about the size of a cocker spaniel, and stood on its hind legs. The Yinlong downsi was about the same age as its cousin, but was slightly shorter and chunkier.
The discovery is important because it proves that the Ceratopsian family, of which all three animals were part of, was much more diversified than it was initially believed.
The lead author of the study, Catherine Forster, from the George Washington’s Geological Sciences Program, stresses the importance of the diversity the family is now believed to have had during the Late Jurassic period. It shows that the horned dinosaur family had already diversified into 5 different bloodlines at the start of the Jurassic.
Before 2006, no other members of the Ceratopsian family were believed to be alive in the Late Jurassic; however, due to recent discoveries, we now know that there were several lineages of the horned dinosaurs living together 160 million years ago.
The Chinese dinosaurs were also thought to have lived contemporarily with the Guanlong, an earlier, velociraptor-sized relative of the T-Rex, and to be hunted by it.
The discovery is important because it adds two new members that lived in the same period to the Ceratopsian family, which was thought to be much smaller.